Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his “Stop the Steal” activist wife have “done enough damage” to the integrity of the nation’s top court that it’s time for Thomas to “do the country a service by stepping down,” declared a scathing opinion piece Friday by a member of The New York Times editorial board.
The call for Thomas to quit comes in the wake of the revelation Thursday that dozens of emails were sent by the justice’s “supremely well-connected right-wing agitator” wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, as she worked “feverishly” to press then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn a legitimate presidential election that Donald Trump had “incontrovertibly” lost, Jesse Wegman wrote in the Times.
Others on Friday were calling for Thomas to be impeached.
“The revelations that Ginni Thomas advocated for the overthrow of our democracy are disqualifying — not just for her … but for her husband,” Women’s March Executive Director Rachel O’ Leary Carmona said in a statement.
“He is hopelessly compromised, conflicted and corrupt, and he must be impeached immediately,” she added.
At the very least, critics said, Thomas must recuse himself from cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, the 2020 presidential election and even Trump.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the revelations make Thomas look “increasingly corrupt” for apparently ignoring the damage to the court’s perception of impartiality.
“Judges are obligated to recuse themselves when their participation in a case would create even the appearance of a conflict of interest. A person with an ounce of common sense could see that bar is met here,” Wyden, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement.
“Justice Thomas participated in cases related to Donald Trump’s efforts to rig and then overturn the 2020 election, while his wife was pushing to do the same,” he added. “He was the lone dissent in a case that could have denied the January 6th Committee records pertaining to the same plot his wife supported.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Friday that it’s entirely up to Thomas if he wants to recuse himself from any cases related to the 2020 presidential election his wife so vehemently fought to overturn.
“I think Justice Thomas could make his decisions like he’s made them every other time,” McCarthy said at a news conference from the House Republicans’ retreat in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Legal scholars, meanwhile, were “shocked” by Ginni Thomas’ texts driving to reinstate a man in the White House who had been voted out, The New Yorker reported Friday. They believe Thomas “must immediately recuse himself from any cases relating to the 2020 election and its aftermath” in light of the revelations that his wife “colluded extensively with a top White House adviser about overturning Joe Biden’s victory,” Jane Mayer wrote in the magazine.
New York University law professor Stephen Gillers, a prominent judicial ethicist, called the emails ― reported by The Washington Post and CBS News ― “a game changer. I was prepared to, and did tolerate a great deal of Ginni’s political activism,” he told The New Yorker. “But “Ginni has now crossed a line.”
Gillers said it’s impossible to know whether Clarence Thomas could be impartial in cases related to the 2020 election. But the Supreme Court justice has forfeited the right to “ask the public to trust his impartiality,” he said. “Now that Ginni’s texts are revealed, Clarence could not sit in any such cases.”
Ginni Thomas not only pushed to upend the election, she also clearly subscribed to the most extreme and incredible conspiracy theories linked to the vote. Following one conspiracy theory, pushed by QAnon, she claimed that Trump and the military had branded ballots with watermarks in a “white hat sting” to identify fraudulent votes — and would send those responsible to Guantánamo.
Neither Ginni nor Clarence Thomas — who ironically complained just weeks ago of the risk of partisan political influence on the Supreme Court — has yet to respond to the email revelations.
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